The brink of NHL free agency 2019

I have no words as we sit about 20 hours away from the opening of the free agent season in the NHL. There’s been plenty of player movement in the league and speculation, but the dust won’t truly be settled until training camps ensue in September. That’s part of why this writer is quiet… I’m watching the annual maelstrom.

As a Tampa Bay Lightning fan, I’m a little lost on the Joe Pavelski push. The point of entertainment on this has been seeing NHl fans reacting to the news and sharing the content where and when they could of Pavelski meeting with Lightning GM Julien BriseBois and eing out and about in Tampa.

Talking hockey though? What I don’t get is the need. Brayden Point will need a contract extension, the defense has retained aging Braydon Coburn but likely needs fresh, able bodies as the Tampacuse development system has failed in producing D for the Bolts.

Why Pavelski investment (if Pavelski signs in Tampa and not with the Dallas Stars, as speculated upon)? If this was 2014, I could see the addition and take it as a comparable move to the Lightning signing Dave Andreychuk to the roster oh-so-many years ago. Andreychuk took leadership led a young and talented roster into success and a Stanley Cup championship — Andreychuk’s first and only Cup title.

Yet even by suggesting the young Jon Cooper club needed a vet addition could be argued against. Cooper had won it all in the AHL with Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and others on the roster. Indeed, the Bolts found success all on their own with the talent on-hand in 2014-15: A berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Maybe it’s all out there about the why with Brise had courting Joe, but to this fan, I don’t get it.

While I’m talking Lightning hockey, I’m going to pivot the subject of the NHL draft and something on my mind the past few days. Nolan Foote is Brisebois first draft selection and now the challenge in place is if BriseBois’s first-round selections can have more success than Steve Yzerman’s.

That’s not as hard a challenge as it sounds. While Yzerman implemented the development system I fondly call Tampacuse, his first-round draft picks have not become Lightning standards. In fact, besides Andrei Vasilevsxkiy (2012, second pick), Yzerman’s top picks have all washed out in the Bolt system.

  • 2010 — Brett Connolly [Traded BOS]
  • 2011 — Vladislav Namestnikov [Traded NYR]
  • 2012 — Slater Koekoek [Traded CHI] / Andrei Vasilevskiy
  • 2013 — Jonathan Drouin [Traded MON]
  • 2014 – Anthony DeAngelo [traded NJD]
  • 2016 — Brett Howden [traded NYR]
  • 2017 — Cal Foote

Every player has a story in their departure and I also would like to point out Namestnkov had the most standing success with the Lightnin — it’s part of why he was dealt (as a valuable chip) to the New York Rangers. System depth at the forward position is hat made him expendable.

Cal Foote has to defy a system issue — Tampacuse is not known for nurturing defensive talent. While lower line guys come in and are assets (reared in the system), they don’t tend to rise. They don’t tend to be standards.

At any rate, I’ll cut this write-up short. I did not take deep observations of the draft, and I’ll be watching the league’s antics with interest. It’s been entertaining as-is, watching from the sidelines.

Update 9:01 PM EDT: Well, rumors and innuendo were saying Pavelski was leaning toward Dallas when I wrote the piece this afternoon. More substantial reports say Joe will sign a three-year deal with the Stars.

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